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Shopping carts make company ‘inspiring’

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Instacart is on a mission to expand its appeal beyond just being a transaction platform. The company announced Thursday the addition of shopping carts: essentially bundles of products recommended by retailers, celebrities and creators.

“It was clear to me that our experience needed to evolve from transactional and utilitarian to inspiring,” said Instacart CEO Fidji Simo. londonbusinessblog.com in an exclusive interview.

The company engaged Lizzo to start the new campaign. The Grammy Award-winning singer has her own cart; other examples of shopping carts are ‘Self Care Sunday’, ‘Late Night Noms’ and ‘Date Night’.

“All these things are like mini-stories telling a universe of possibilities, and I think that’s what drives a lot of the behavior we see on the platform,” said Simo, who hired to run the company a little over a year ago. She points to school lunches as another example, saying she used the feature (which was available for internal testing) to come up with new recipes to pack for her daughter’s lunch.

The carts come along with a wider range of investments in the platform. The company is also building on its shoppable recipe integrations to help recipe makers and food-oriented developers commercialize their websites. That means bloggers and publishers can share recipes and instead of the reader having to write down each item and run to the store, the necessary items can be purchased directly on Instacart.

Instacart is also launching an affiliate network for creators, publishers, and developers, allowing them to monetize purchases their audiences make on the platform. The feature, called Instacart Tastemakers, offers creators in the program a 3% commission on qualifying purchases made through their shoppable links, a spokesperson said. londonbusinessblog.com.

All updates will come as Instacart is ready for its public debut. The company confidentially submitted an initial public offering in May and is expected to hit the market before 2023, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company declined to comment on the timing, citing the pre-IPO calm period by order of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investors are keeping a close eye on the company as a listing would come in 2022 as the IPO market is on pace for the worst year in decades.

Instacart was one of the darlings of the pandemic, receiving a boost from consumers cutting off trips to the grocery store and shopping online instead. Because of that positioning, the company was widely regarded as a prime candidate to go public this year. Then markets began their steep sell-off due to decades of high inflation, rising interest rates and the ongoing geopolitical conflict in Europe.

In March, Instacart lowered its internal valuation from $39 billion to about $24 billion. Still, the company, which also earns revenue from advertising, remains confident in its model. Simo says that despite concerns about the macro environment, customer spending remains strong.

The company relies on price-saving options, such as offering cheaper scheduled delivery or the ability to pick up their own orders. “Our job is to really connect [customers] with all the options they have to make grocery shopping more affordable,” adds Simo.

Those efforts seem to have given the company a boost. Instacart hit its highest-ever quarterly revenue in the second quarter of 2022, up 39% year-over-year to $621 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, who also reported that the number of orders placed through Instacart is up 25% from the same period a year ago to more than 60 million. The company declined to comment on the numbers.

“Our company continues to grow,” says Simo. “Yes, the pandemic has accelerated that adoption a little bit, but essentially the biggest trends and the main trend is a trend towards more online adoption. . . . The next five years will be devoted to deepening that online adoption.”

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